Collaboration
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Thanks Janette for your great video.

I thought you stated what many of the scholarly articles stated, but your explanations were clear and provided a good framework and advice, so thanks.

  1. Buy-in

It seemed to me that your advice of getting students’ buy-in was an important thread throughout all the literature since many online students might expect and prefer to work alone. It may even be the sole reason they have chosen to attend online classes, so I think your ideas of preparing them right away from the course description and syllabus would be important for everyone but especially for the loner.

  1. Clear expectations

I must confess that that when things fall flat in my classes, I have to take responsibility for not having clear expectations of not only the outcomes but how they will reach them. Also having clear expectations for students you won’t see f2f becomes crucial since you won’t be able to do a spur of the moment correction. I would think that this step might take quite a bit of time to prepare and might get better over time when the pitfalls become clearer.

  1. Start small

I felt more reassured by your advice to start small and build up from peer reviews and discussions which are a part of every course to larger types of group work.

A f2f group assignment that I would consider migrating to an online composition course is actually a pre-writing activity. I have come to feel that preliminary research and pre-writing activities can help students organize and write better essays, so I would carry this philosophy online.

I prepare the students by mirroring the following process in class on a different topic. Their assignment is to do general research on the assigned topic with the end product being a random list of 25 phrases or terms they jot down while reading and bring to the next class.

The in-class groups of about 4 students then take the random lists and cluster like items together into two shorter lists, leaving out what doesn’t fit. They then create a general category name for each of the two clusters.  The topic I’ve used for this is an essay on the effects of school bullying, and after the clustering of ideas, the student groups have come up with such organizational patterns as short term/long term effects, physical/psychological, victim/bully, or others. Their group work continues with organizing the sub- items in the two clusters in order to group ideas together and create a logical flow—they have actually roughly outlined the body paragraphs. The group then comes up with a working thesis sentence that works for their organizational pattern, and together they draft an introductory paragraph. Their assignment for the week is to write the body paragraphs using the organized list of ideas, adding what is needed, and backing up their ideas with research.

The following week, the same groups do a peer review of each member’s resulting essay.

I think that the changes that would need to occur to move this to an online course would be a video of my initial mirroring demonstration. The preliminary research and creating the random lists would remain the same, but the lists would simply need to be shared in the groups I create.

It seems that what I can do in a 4 hour f2f class would need to be broken down into pieces so that each student in the group can contribute to the process through Google docs and small group discussion.